LOUISA, Ky. -- Four years ago the matchup for Lawrence County Judge/Executive coming up in eight days would have been hard to believe.
Current judge John Osborne, a Democrat, won the 2010 race over former Republican judge/exec. Phil Carter and at his first fiscal court meeting announced to the court that he wanted to lease the historic old Methodist Church on the corner to Community Fellowship Church and pastor Rick May, a Republican friend, for $500 per month and spend $20,000 of a grant originally earmarked for economic development, to fix up the church for CFC.
The court agreed and CFC has been using the church since then and from all indications, thriving.
But in the spring signup period Rick May surprised nearly everyone in Lawrence County and registered to run against his "friend" for judge/executive instead of running for jailer as he had indicated at first. About the church issue May said it is run by a six person board of directors, including his father, and all he does is the work of the pastor.
Osborne said he was "shocked and disappointed" that May would run against him. "I don't know why he is against me," Osborne said. "I don't know why he did it but I will run my campaign just the same."
May, who is a well known ordained minister, said he was walking around his farm thinking and praying what he could do to help improve the community and it came to him that he should run for judge.
"I still consider John a friend, but I think I have some new ideas that I believe will boost our chances in Lawrence County to thrive in today's business world."
May has run a media campaign that emphasizes what Lawrence county can be.
"Lawrence County has so much potential with our natural resources and transportation facilities, plus the most beautiful lake in the state, I think we are on the verge of really taking off and I think we will see that very soon," May said. "Lawrence County's best days are ahead."
He also mentioned the fact that Lawrence Co. is now the number 1 natural gas producing county in the state which brings jobs and tax monies to work with.
Osborne says it has taken the first four years of his administration attending economic development meetings and dealing with the loss of jobs at Kentucky Power, and biggest of all, working on the more than 900 miles of Lawrence county roads. And, he said, just learning the ropes of how everything works.
"Most people don't realize how much time and work it takes just to deal with the roads and bridges just keeping them up, it's the toughest part of the job, especially with the drop in state and federal funds during this term.
One issue Osborne has campaigned on is not hiring a deputy judge and instead running the judge's office with the help of office staff only saving the taxpayers thousands of dollars.
May says he will hire a deputy judge/exec., but has, so far, not announced who it will be.
"There's not much difference in hiring a good, qualified deputy judge than what John has done by hiring former magistrate Homer Fannin as County Road Coordinator at $14,000 a year and paying an office worker $42,000 for grant writer, data processor, office clerk," said County GOP chairman Todd Dunn last week. "So that shouldn't really be an issue."
Osborne won the May Primary over two candidates, Mike McKinney and Harold Slone, who together garnered about the same number of votes as Osborne's 980 or so. Neither of the two are actively supporting Osborne.
May had no Primary opposition.
Osborne appointed a Solid Waste Committee to help with the Five Year plan required by the state and also hired a Solid Waste Coordinator, Darrell Ratliff who began writing tickets for citizens who were, he said, operating junk yards that are out of compliance with state law. The state EPA agreed but did little, if anything to help with the situation. "Those people put up their required fencing," Osborne said. "Solid waste is still writing warning citations and court action if necessary," Osborne said. (Update October 29, 2014).
By not mentioning the problem in his campaign, May has so far dodged the issue that is one of the main concerns of the Lawrence County community. "I have spoken to the issues but I don't believe in talking too much about what has been done wrong, I just want to help Lawrence County grow and prosper," he said.
"It's easy for a candidate to go out there and tell the voters that he thinks he can do a good job without mentioning how he will do it," Osborne said.
"Although it has been slow, Lawrence County has grown and I believe will continue to grow, " Osborne said. "We are working on several different projects including trying to get an educational facility into the old annex, or possibly a business. We are looking at projects to increase tourism. We are actively involved with East Park which is in the process of becoming a certified industrial park that will be the first of to kind in eastern KY. As of now, it is the only 'site ready' land that is available for incoming manufacturing and industry near us, but we are looking to see what it will take to get land here in the county developed. It is not an easy process, osborne added.
Obviously May is not privy to information he may need to effectively talk about some of the issues.
"I'll have a team that will be able to move this county forward," May explained. One specific he did mention is the creation of an economic development board similar to those in surrounding counties like Martin County.
"We need to get some folks who have the business experience and knowledge to help set up a plan and have a director that follows those plans," May said Monday. "And I plan on getting started as soon as the next term begins, if I'm elected."
Osborne has begun to work on economic development during the past few months and has appointed Catrina Vargo to lead the efforts as coordinator. "We have attended several meetings and seminars and it really helps understand what we have to do to get ready for industry and business and how to sell them on Lawrence County," Osborne said.
Another item has come about recently is the election for wet or dry status for the city of Louisa and although the county judge/executive has only the responsibility of handing a petition to the clerk for inclusion on the ballot, many wonder how the two candidates stand.
May, a devout Christian and former law enforcement officer was frank about his feelings. "I am against it and everybody knows it," May said. "But it's not just the damage alcohol does to people's lives, it's the fact that I just can't see the economic benefit of it. It surely hasn't helped Ft. Gay much."
Osborne said he does not drink alcohol and probably would not vote wet if he lived in the city.
"But, I believe it should be left up to the voters and taxpayers to make that decision, not just one person. That's the reason I passed the petition along to the clerk to be placed on the ballot."
(This story was re-edited Wednesday, Oct. 29, 2014.)
Up NEXT...The Louisa city RACES
See Sample Ballot on Courthouse section HERE
By Joseph GerthThe Courier-Journal
Ready for Clinton overload?Former President Bill Clinton will be in Kentucky on Thursday for rallies in support of U.S. Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes.One rally will be at the Muhammad Ali Center in Louisville. The event is open to the public, and doors will open at 9 a.m. The other event is slated for noon in Ashland at Veteran's Riverfront Park.The visit marks Clinton's fourth to Kentucky in support of Grimes, whose father, Jerry Lundergan, is a close friend of Clinton.Clinton and his wife, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, have been an integral part of Grimes' election efforts. On Saturday, Hillary Clinton will make her second visit to the state, with stops in Lexington and Northern Kentucky.Grimes is trying to knock off Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who was scheduled to campaign with Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal on Wednesday night.The Clintons have been important to the Grimes campaign as McConnell has repeatedly tied Grimes to President Barack Obama, who has a 30 percent favorablity rating in the state, according to the most recent Bluegrass Poll.Grimes has called herself a "Clinton Democrat" and refused to say whether she voted for Obama in 2008 or 2012.On the other hand, the Bluegrass Poll recently found that Clinton, who was the last Democrat to win a statewide federal election in Kentucky, defeating Republican Bob Dole and Reform Party candidate Ross Perot in 1996, has a 53 percent approval rating in the state.Clinton also won the state in 1992 when he beat Republican George H.W. Bush and Perot, who was at the time an Independent.
Jim Bryant, of Paintsville did the audits on the Louisa City government as well as the Water and Sewer Dept.
Louisa City Council finally got to meet for a Special Meeting on Thursday after having to miss the regular scheduled this month and a special meeting as well.
The meeting was called to order by Mayor Teddy Preston. There was four members present, just enough for a quorum to continue. Gloria Johnson led everyone in the Pledge of Allegiance and Mayor Preston said the prayer.
Council member John Nolan, who is running a write-in campaign to regain his seat on the council after missing the deadline to sign up, made the motion to change Trick or Treat from Halloween night to the following day.The first item on the agenda was to approve the minutes from September 9th with a motion to approve by John Nolan and second by Gloria Johnson, all were in favor. Next, Gloria Johnson made a motion to approve minutes from September 12th and Tom Parsons second it all were in favor. A motion to approve September 16 was made by Johnson and second by Nolan and all were in favor.
Jim Bryant spoke to the council about the City of Louisa Audit for 2012-2013. He thanked them for allowing him to serve the city of Louisa. He went on to say that the City had an excess of revenues overage of $93,948 in their General fund.
"I commend you all for sticking to your budget. Actually, looking at your budget, you came in well under budget with administrative police, fire and so forth. I feel like the management of the finances for the City of Louisa is being handled very well," Bryant said.
He spoke of internal control and other matters. He said that there were two findings. One from previous year which is segregation of duties. With the City of Louisa being so small it will always be in there. The other is the publication of the financial statements. These must be made public within ninety days from the end of the fiscal year.
Bryant went on to say that his other findings were that the City was using the federal money received in compliance.
Mayor Teddy Preston brought up the Trick or Treat change, but did not vote either way.He went on to the audit for Louisa Water and Sewer for 2012-2013. He explained that the findings show that everything was presented fairly. He explained that the W&S had a loss of over $26,000.
Bryant said, "I think that you need to get out of having losses. I have seen worse than this before, so it is not really that bad."
He continued to encourage them to make sure that they have enough revenue coming in and have enough cash in the bank so that they can have all the bills paid.Bryant stated, "One thing that hurt the City in 2013 was the first payment of the lawsuit settlement (Sierra Club) payment of $160,000. It really took a chunk of your cash out and now your are paying that $45,000 for the next four years after that. That really depletes your cash."
He explained how the W&S is going to have to get the cash built back up. Bryant went on to remind the council that they took on $7.7 million in debt from projects that the W&S have taken on.
"My advice would be, don't fall behind on your Water and Sewer rates. Expenses will be going up. You have payroll, you've, got chemicals, repairs and maintenance, materials and so forth. Costs are going up and now you have taken on so much more debt," stated Bryant.
He recommended that the council look at the rates every year. he went on to say, "Make sure the rates are there and they can pay for everything that needs to be paid for."
For 2014 the W&S will be taking on another half a million dollars in debt and that will bring the debt total to over $8 million dollars in debt.
Bud Adams, the appointed City Attorney stated, "I am really concerned with this."
Council member Brad Stark brought up the fact that the council has been trying to make some changes such as the water that is sold to Big Sandy Water, Inc.
City attorney Bud Adams said he is "concerned" about the audit of the W&S department.Stark explained to Bryant that it had been brought to the council's attention through a study that the city had been allowing BSW to purchase water at less that what it costs the city to produce it. The council asked BSW to accept a 15 cent per gallon increase in a previous meeting and have yet to hear back from them. Stark went on to explain that they are trying to fix the problem.
Bryant reminded the council that they should not ever be paying sales tax on anything and that they need to make sure they are presenting their exempt number to those vendors.
The last thing from the audit was a recommendation that all checks should have dual signatures and that Dave McGuire, the Water & Sewer director needed to be signing the checks himself and not with a stamp. He also explained that the water and sewer adjustments should be approved by the Mayor or the director along with the clerk and obtain the approval before any adjustments be made.
The next thing on the agenda was to open bids for asphalt patching. There was only one bid that was received and it was from R&L Paving. They placed a bid of $275 per ton but did not give a bid of total cost to finish the paving. There was discussion on the issue that the clerk had only asked for a bid per ton.
Council member Brad Stark, an attorney for the U.S. Government, has been diligent in finding out why the city sells water to Big sandy water, Inc. below cost for several years.The council decided to reject the bid and to specify that the bid needs to be per ton and a total overall cost. Also, it will be requested that the bid be broken down in different increments for different tonage. There will be a special meeting on November 6 at 7 pm to open the bids.
The blacktopping of streets was the next item to discuss. Lawrence County Judge John Osborne had promised that the county would allow the city to use the county equipment, but now the county says they don't have a tack truck and the blacktop machine is broke down. It is now so late in the season that the city can get it done at county cost but the City would be the last ones on the list and it could be as late as next spring before it could be done.
The streets that are on the list to blacktop or refinish are Meadowbrook Drive, South Chester St, Vinson Ave, South St, and part of Lakey Ave. It will be bidded out in option form and the streets that the City can afford will be fixed. They will receive bids by the tenth of a mile.
A motion to advertise for bids was made by Stark and a second by Johnson and all were in favor.
A motion was then made Johnson to accept the second reading of Ordinance 2014-04 "An Ordinance relating to the Taxation of Property within the City of Louisa" and a second by Tom Parsons. All were in favor.
Council member Tom Parsons voted in favor of the Trick or Treat change, but also expresses concern over the overspending in the W&S departmentTrick or Treat was the next item to be discussed (See Lazer Announcements for the latest news about TorT night). There had been many complaints come to City Hall concerning the date that had been set. The Council had set the date for Friday, Oct. 31 but due to that being Senior Night and the last regular scheduled LCHS home football game many were concerned with congestion and parking issues.
"I am for having it Friday night myself but there have been a number of calls wanting to know why we're having it on Friday night." Mayor Preston said.
The floor was opened to comments to the audience. A third grader from LEE school stood and explained that he would like for them to change it to Thursday so that those who go to the game can go and not miss out on Trick or Treating. He also brought up the fact that the Bulldogs opponent for Friday night's game, Prestonsburg had changed theirs to Thursday. He went on to say that it is Senior Night.
Another person reminded the council that there are a lot of kids that attend the football games and that it would really make it hard on the parents to get them changed and ready.
Council member Gloria Johnson, who was all decked out in her Halloween shirt, cast the only 'no' vote on changing the Trick or Treat night.Council member John Nolan stated that there will be a lot of parents that won't be home to hand out candy as well.
There was a motion to change it to Sat November 1st from 5-7 pm made by Stark and second by Nolan. Parson agreed and Johnson opposed. The change passed with a 3 to 1 vote.
There was no Louisa Police Dept. due to Chief Greg Fugitt was sick.
The Louisa Fire Dept reported that there was a total of 18 runs for the month of September. There were 3 motor vehicle accidents was 3 in the city and 4 in the fire district, 2 mutual aid, fire alarms was 4 in the city and 1 in the fire district, smoke investigation was 2 in the city, and EMS assist was 2 in the city.
Supt. Greg Slone was also sick also so there was no report for Street and Sanitation Dept.
BSW, inc. reportedly had their meeting on the 20th and was supposed to discuss the proposed rate increase. They are requesting that they be present next meeting.
There was no executive session and the meeting was adjourned.
Page 1 of 329